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  Mechanic #063 - Seabase Alpha

Category: Puzzle
Posted: 12/06/07

Rescue survivors and use their unique skills to escape the sinking underwater seabase.



This is a very simple concept. You control a group of people with unique abilities as they try to escape from an under water facility that is slowly filling up with water. Using the survivors, you've got to find them and get them to the exit.

The seabase is a huge complex made up of several different domes spread out across the ocean floor. It is primarily a military research complex, but it does house a significant civilian population and facilities. The seabase is attacked by terrorists, causing a slow chain reaction. As each dome is filled, it will cause a short of pressure change which will affect the next dome in line.

You begin as a scientist who needs to get to the research dome to rescue potentially world changing research (like the cure for cancer or something). As you travel from dome to dome toward your destination, it is your responsibility to rescue survivors that you find and get them to life boats. Once you have the research, then you need to get to the lifeboats yourself.

Of course, things are made somewhat difficult by the obstacles before you. You've got to close bulkheads, reroute power conduits, swim through flooded rooms, and of course, watch out for the terrorists lurking about.

  Is the Seabase half empty or half full?


At the heart of the concept is a very simple particle system that controls the water. Basically, concave elements fill up, then overflow into the next one. Since the seabase is underwater, the incoming flow of water is infinite. However, you can manipulate the environment to affect how quickly rooms fill with water.

For instance, if you push a bunch of furniture into a room, it will fill up quicker. If you drop a couch or something into a room from above, it will cause the water level to rise (eureka!). You can close bulkheads to block off rooms from taking on water (though perhaps they could only hold against so much water before bursting). You can reroute pipes to drain water or move water from one room to another.

I'd say that levels should be designed such that there are several points of equilibrium - moments when the trickle is limited such that the level retains that specific state for a longer period of time. If the player somehow manages to manipulate the level into a good equilibrium for too long, a pipe should burst or something after a while so that the player is never completely safe for too long.


Each survivor has certain unique abilities that you can use to affect the environment and other survivors in some way. As you progress, you'll find permanent, named companions but each survivor you find is unique in some way. Control is handled like a real time strategy game (something like Commandos or Baldur's Gate).

Priest - The average survivor gets scared and may not move further without comfort. The Priest gives a morale boost to nearby characters and can reduce the fear / cowering of survivors who have become paralyzed.

Elderly Couple - This is a couple that travels together. If they are separated, they will become paralyzed with fear or sadness. Use a priest to get them moving again, or simply reunite the two. Also, has minimal ability to swim.

Scientist - You, the main character. Can operate computers and affect the control of certain facility subsystems. For instance, accessing the draining system will allow you to pump water from one room to another or drain one that is already full.

Military Man - Not only able to shoot terrorists with his trusty side arm, he is at the peak of his physical condition. As such he can use his strength to turn rusted wheels to open bulkheads. Also, can fend off sharks with his trusty knife.

The Hot Chick - Was on the swim team in high school, so she can hold her breath longest and swim the furthest without getting tired. Before swimming, she will strip down to her underwear, even when nobody else does, because disaster movies do it that way. Yeah, it's unlikely she really is an olympic swimmer, but hot chicks in next to nothing equals sex appeal, baby.

Dog - There's usually a dog in these types of movies. I don't know what gameplay you'd use with it, but whatever. Gotta have a dog.



Copyright 2007-2014 Sean Howard. All rights reserved.